Although it may be the end of this class, it is not the end of the learning. Here is my summary of what has struck me so far… Watch, listen, enjoy, and feel free to comment.
Here is the youtube link as well.
Last week, our ECI831 class listened to a presentation by Stephen Downes that explored the changing role of the teacher. He argued that these many roles would eventually be divvied up among educators who are experts at only one role. To me this seemed too much like an assembly line business model of education that denies the fact that teaching is an art, rather than an acquired skill. Certainly, teachers are continually honing their skills and working to improve education; yet it is not necessarily something that can be explicitly taught. There are many people who have acquired specific skill sets and know a lot about a particular concept or idea. This does not always mean that they are good teachers. Anyone who has sat through a 100 level university lecture can attest to this. Although many profs are passionate about their subject area, they are not necessarily passionate about how students learn their subject matter. An expert teacher focuses on teaching the whole child; this takes the whole teacher. As educators, we are able to balance these many different roles and sort out which role needs to be given attention at any given time. Teaching takes heart, body, and soul: these cannot be divided. For more around this idea, I would direct you to the article, “Teacher as Rain Dancer” by Simon Hole (1998). In this article, the author explores the idea of how tension is created in the classroom when trying account for the needs of the student, the needs of the class, and the needs of the teacher. He uses the metaphor of “teacher as rain dancer”. Just as a rain dancer does not know when the steps are perfect and it will rain, a teacher does not know what steps will create perfection in teaching.
Hole, Simon. (1998). Teacher as Rain Dancer. Harvard Educational Review 68: 413 –421.
Mythinformation: the almost religious conviction that a widespread adoption of computers and communications systems along with easy access to electronic information will automatically produce a better world for human living. (Winner, 1986).
In my first few years teaching, I felt a very strong push for technology use at the board level. However, I got my back up because I felt that we were just ‘told’ that we had to do it and not given the reasons why it was better. Through taking EC&I 830, I was given an opportunity to learn about different technologies and how it could be used in the classroom. But, even after taking this class: I was still not on twitter; I stopped using my delicious account; and I only used computers in my classroom as either a research tool or glorified typewriter. This would be a clear example of a CMS. However, is EC&I 831 a PLN (see here for more information)? I know that it depends completely on me. That being said, I am not sure how much I will continue to expand and change my PLN once this class is over and so many other things get in the way. I have never wholeheartedly embraced technology. I spend time with it because I have to and it does make my life easier. But I still have no desire for a smart phone, a data plan, or even an updated cell phone.
Now when I plan projects, I look at what I want to teach and then try to use technology to support what I am doing. Enter delicious accounts for research, google docs for student/teacher sharing, and student-blogging to ask questions, share ideas, and create conversations. This is not without its problems though.
I am currently working on a social studies citizenship project with my students. They are exploring Canadian history from three different perspectives: First Nation and Metis, Francophone and Quebecois, and immigrant. Students need to have a timeline, a map of their culture, an interview with a relevant resource, a field trip related to their topic, and a presentation for the class. I went to the library to gather print resources for each group. One day, the students did not have the computer for the first half hour of class and had to use only print resources for research. Many of the students seemed to go through major withdrawl while waiting for the computers to arrive. Once they had access, their gaze resembled that of the girl in the photograph: engaged, mesmerized, hypnotized, entranced… addicted?
“The proliferation of images of children gazing at computers with wide-eyed wonder has much to do with the creation of this aura of multimedia innocence. So too does the frequent juxtaposition of …technology and happy children, typically within the context of blatantly utopian environments, unfettered worlds in which youngsters are encouraged to give free reign to their creativity, ideas, and imagination” (Rose, p. 47).
I am curious for insight on this. We seem to continue these stories by bragging about how early our children are exposed to technology and by how quickly they pick it up. Do these stories need critical evaluation? Or is it just the accepted (and wanted) norm?
Rose, Ellen (2000). Hypetexts: the language and culture of educational computing. London: The Althouse Press.
Winner, Langdon (1986). The Whale and the Reactor: a search for limits in an age of high technology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.